Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health illness that’s sparked by a horrifying event — either witnessing it or experiencing it. Symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety, plus uncontrollable thoughts related to the event. It can affect anyone, and not just soldiers or first responders. It can’t be cured, but help is available through psychotherapy and the use of medicine like ketamine.
WHAT ARE THE TRIGGERS FOR PTSD?
If you experience the symptoms of PTSD from physical injury or emotional distress due to an accident or combat, it’s presumed that triggers or situations will activate it. There are many to watch out for:
- Seeing a person with a connection to the trauma, or who might have gone through it with you. Another person could have a physical trait that serves as a reminder.
- Thoughts and emotions, like helplessness, stress, fear, could activate symptoms.
- An object, including the contour of a common item, can unearth traumatic recollections and trigger PTSD.
- Scents from a fire pit or exhaust from a diesel engine can be entwined with traumatic memories.
- PTSD symptoms can happen if you return to the place where the incident happened, or just visiting someplace that serves as a reminder, like a forest or dark alley.
- TV shows, Twitter or other social media, news reports, and mobile phone apps can all double as triggers and make symptoms flare up.
- Fear or anger and other emotions are potent triggers. Being touched on purpose or accident, especially on a body part that was injured, could result in a distressing flashback.
Can PTSD and the effects of triggers be controlled with medication? Yes. The VA has conducted research with many organizations and universities to study the power of antidepressants like ketamine and discovered it offers relief for harmful memories, thoughts, and behaviors related to PTSD.
- Hearing specific noises, songs, or voices may induce memories of the trauma.
- The taste of a food or beverage could remind you of where the incident happened.
- You may connect situations with the incident, like a crowd of spectators at a baseball game or being stuck in a grocery store check-out line.
- People who experience a traumatic event always remember the anniversary of what happened. If you lived through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, that date will forever trigger a physical or emotional reaction.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE PTSD TRIGGERS
For people suffering from PTSD, the triggers can be clear or subtle. Triggers that are subtle may not be recognizable until a response happens. Some people insist their symptoms appeared out of nowhere; truthfully, they’re usually caused by an imperceptible trigger.
Sensations of hyperventilation or danger is a signal that you’ve experienced a PTSD trigger. A doctor or therapist can help you recognize triggers and educate you on coping mechanisms.
AM I AT RISK?
Imagine the shock a firefighter faced after racing to the Pentagon immediately following the 9/11 attacks, or a frontline soldier in Vietnam during the peak of the war. Now you may understand the impacts of a postponed mental disorder on a person suffering from PTSD. Not all who survive unharmed will experience PTSD, but those suffering injuries could harbor risk markers described by the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Survived a horrifying event or trauma.
- Suffered major physical or psychological harm.
- Served as a witness while someone was badly injured or killed.
- Experienced childhood trauma.
- Memories of past events dredge up feelings of horror, helplessness, or severe fear.
- Lacks entry to a support group after the trauma.
- Victimized by severe anxiety blamed on pain and injury, the death of a loved one, financial troubles, or home eviction.
- Struggles with substance abuse or mental illness.
Sometimes you think you suffer from PTSD. The symptoms, like micro-explosions in your brain, are a notice that you likely need help. After discussing your symptoms with a therapist or doctor, therapy plans are reviewed, including drugs like ketamine and talk therapy.
Yale researchers discovered that ketamine has fast and robust antidepressant effects when administered in low doses. There is considerable interest in ketamine and related drugs as a potential treatment for depression and PTSD because they function differently in the brain, repairing or strengthening neurotransmitters critical in how we perceive trauma and pain.
There are many triggers for PTSD, none of which should be ignored.
Recognizing them is the first step in learning to manage the condition. If you suffer from PTSD, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the innovative new forms of treatment that we offer, and schedule a free consultation with a nurse anesthesiologist to learn if ketamine infusion therapy is right for you.